We like watching TV in high definition, but Hulu is “good enough.” We like buying DVDs, but renting on Netflix is “good enough.” We like listening to our music collection, but Pandora is “good enough.”
Wired magazine coined the phrase “Good Enough Revolution” back in August of 2009 and the idea is that today, users will accept less functionality and less advanced products for more convenience and greater availability.
“[Hulu’s] content may not be hi-def, and you’re stuck watching it on a computer screen, but Hulu lets you catch recent television shows and popular movies whenever and wherever you want. For free. No wonder it has 40 million unique viewers.”
But, from a Gen Y perspective, I disagree with the views they have on this “revolution.” I don’t think that consumers are lowering their standards for the things they buy.
Because we grew up in the middle of the technological revolution, we understand that innovation occurs. We also understand that this can also bring negative consequences. This technical revolution has provided consumers with new capabilities, and options that were unheard of 15 years ago. Thus, we have a different set of needs when it comes to purchasing products.
Because we grew up in the technology boom, we know that something better will always be on the horizon. Businesses feel that their new products are those “better somethings” that will change the world and they want to make adoption of their product as easy as possible. Thankfully for them, Gen Y is full of early adopters who are willing to try a new product that could improve their life in some way. This adaptability has lead to many new product trials – with some successes and some failures.
But we’re okay with this. In fact, we love this. As a generation, we love the opportunity to try new things and see if they will actually make our lives easier. If they do, we will happily adopt. If they don’t, we will happily go back to how we did things before and keep our eye out for the next new product.
This tendency for trial and error also shows the focus we place on usability and product success. Because we have tried so many products, and generally understand what we like, we place a high value on a product being simple, having a short learning curve, and performing the way it says it will. If a product doesn’t provide us with additional value than the one we are currently using, we won’t adopt it – plain and simple.
We grew up in one of the greatest economic booms our country has ever seen. We grew up in the good times; discretionary spending was what we were raised on. But, we have also learned a valuable lesson in the past five years. This economic period has changed us as a generation forever. As a young generation, we were planning on having the good things in life, making money to both save and spend.
But when the Great Recession happened, it made us take a step back and reevaluate what was important.
We now put a high premium on value – is the price you charge worth the benefits I will receive? We’re being more careful with spending our money. Why did the major movie studios make an agreement with Netflix to release their DVDs to the rental service three months after they release? Because we don’t buy DVDs anymore. The ability to pay $10 a month and watch anything we want far outweighs buying a DVD for twice the price.
A product that delivers what you want it to sounds like a good product, not a product that is “good enough.”
Michael Masnick at Techdirt says, “The concept of ‘good enough’ misses the point…The real problem is that some [companies] start to focus on the ‘quality’ aspect of the product, rather than the quality of meeting what the consumer wants.”
Likewise, I don’t see this as a “revolution” by any means. I don’t see it as consumers being willing accept less from their products. I see it as consumers changing their ideas of “benefits” and “value.” Just because we’re focusing more on price and convenience than on features and power doesn’t mean that those new products are inferior. In fact, one could argue that they are superior; they are geared more towards the general wants of consumers.
Gen Y is the perfect example of why this shift has occurred, but is also the perfect example of why it’s not a “revolution.” It’s only a shift in the preferences of individuals. And businesses are listening to us.
Photo by chris.corwin